Carinthia becomes real-life laboratory for photovoltaics research project

5/29/2020Feistritz im Rosental

Groundbreaking ceremony with provincial governor Peter Kaiser and provincial councillor Sara Schaar: Austria’s most innovative large photovoltaic system is being built in Carinthia. The pilot system is being built by VERBUND, together with technology and research partners, at the Feistritz-Ludmannsdorf power plant on the Drava river. The early detection of faults and creeping degradation is being developed in research operations.

In ten years’ time, all electricity generated in Austria should come from renewable sources. To achieve this ambitious target, Austria’s biggest electricity generator, VERBUND, will invest in hydropower and in the expansion of innovative large photovoltaic systems. By bundling competences in the newly founded VERBUND Green Power GmbH, the sunny province of Carinthia has been selected as the location for a special pilot project for solar electricity: VERBUND, together with research and technology partners, will build and operate a large photovoltaic research facility directly on the site of the Drava power plant at Feistritz-Ludmannsdorf. 

Site visit by provincial governor Peter Kaiser and provincial councillor Sara Schaar

The innovative pilot system is part of a research project for the prevent maintenance of PV systems (“OptPV4.0”) funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency using means from the climate and energy fund. The project is being implemented VERBUND Green Power in cooperation with leading companies from the photovoltaics industry.
During a site visit, Carinthia’s provincial governor Peter Kaiser emphasised the boosting of photovoltaic competences in the province, in particular through the participation in the project of the internationally active Carinthian companies ENcome Energy Performance GmbH and Silicon Austria Labs GmbH: “By constructing this innovative photovoltaic system in Carinthia, we are also sending out a clearly visible signal beyond the borders of our province: Carinthia is consistently following its path of sustainable, clean energy generation also in the interests of our children and grandchildren,” said provincial governor Peter Kaiser a the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the pilot system, which is “another important piece in the puzzle for making Carinthia even more attractive as a place to live, work and do research.”

“PV technology from Carinthia for the world market”

Provincial councillor for energy and environment, Sara Schaar, was pleased to note on her visit that the entire large system can be constructed right on the site of the Drava power plant: “This project is an example of how photovoltaic systems don’t have to be randomly built in the open countryside but can implemented in the vicinity of existing infrastructure. I am delighted that VERBUND is investing in such an innovative photovoltaic system and in doing taking another step towards promoting alternative energy in Carinthia, because Carinthia is a sunny part of the world,” said provincial councillor Sara Schaar.
The plant components and modules are being built by the Klagenfurt-based company KPV Solar, and preliminary work on the substructure is currently under way. The research plant will be built on an area of about 2.5 hectares without the need to seal the land.
Theresia Vogel, management director of the Climate and Energy Fund: “The project shows how photovoltaics will have to be procured in future in order to be fit for the energy system in 2030. And it will show how innovative PV technology from Austria can position itself on the world market. Good reasons for our support, which is intended to bring the technology from Austria rapidly to market.

First VERBUND large photovoltaic system on the site of a hydropower plant

“Photovoltaics is an important future energy source in Austria. VERBUND has thus set itself the goal of supplementing its hydropower generation with about 25 percent photovoltaic and wind power generation by 2030. In doing so, we want to make an important contribution to achieving the Austrian and European climate and energy targets,” said Stephan Sharma, spokesperson for the managing director of VERBUND Green Power GmbH on a tour of the construction site.
The core goal of the project is the early detection of faults and creeping degradation through the research of system-wide data analysis and modelling concepts. The findings obtained should subsequently contribute to increasing and ensuring the yield and economic efficiency of photovoltaic systems. 

Efficiency advantage: solar electricity is fed directly into the transmission network

In Carinthia, VERBUND operates 21 hydropower plants with an annual output of more than 3.7 billion kilowatt hours, which corresponds to about 85 percent of the province’s total annual electricity requirement: “The use of the available infrastructure for the construction of large PV systems in the vicinity of our hydropower plants provides the opportunity to use this generation technology especially efficiently,” said Karl Heinz Gruber, managing director of VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH, on the visit by provincial governor Peter Kaiser and provincial councillor Sara Schaar, and explained a particular advantage of combining hydropower with a large PV system: “Here at the Feistritz-Ludmannsdorf power plant, it is possible to feed the solar energy generated directly into the high-voltage grid, which minimises transmission losses.”

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